Posted by: HAT | November 3, 2010

Be Kind

Hi, Gang!

I was excited to find the source of the quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I was going to put it on my Facebook page (so lame, of course), but wanted to have a provenance. Countless internet sources attribute it to Plato, and countless others to Philo of Alexandria, and no one seemed to know where it actually came from.

But The Quote Investigator (huzzah!) has traced it to Ian MacLaren, pseudonym of John Watson, in a late 19th century Christmas message, who actually said “Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle.” (Read the whole article.) So, MacLaren/Watson has been dynamically equivalenced in the course of the internet’s perpetual game of telephone.

With all that, I like the quote. Better than I like Plato.

But it also indicates just how untrustworthy the material on the internet can be. The hermeneutic of suspicion still seems to be a good default.

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